39 38 of rural 16 of urban households hold BPL cards 39

46 of rural 23 of urban households purchased subsidised rice through public distribution system
39 38 of rural 16 of urban households hold BPL cards 39

While a national list of the actual number of poor in India, based on the socio-economic CASTE survey, is expected to be released shortly, 38 percent of rural and 16 percent of urban households currently possess ‘below poverty line’ (BPL) cards, according to a new report from the Ministry of
Statistics and Programme Implementation.

BPL cards are given to households below the poverty line to give them access to subsidised food through the public distribution system (PDS). Further, five percent of rural and two percent of urban households have Antyodaya ration cards.

The report, based on the 68th national sample survey round carried out during 2011-12, finds that 56 percent of households employed as casual labour in agriculture possessed BPL cards. The proportion of households possessing Antyodaya was the highest for casual labour in agriculture and non-agriculture households.

Interestingly, households with the lowest levels of land ownership had the highest proportion of households with no ration card, estimated at 21 percent. The possession of Antyodaya as well as BPL cards was seen to fall with increase in size of land possessed.

In both rural and urban areas, the possession of BPL cards was relatively high in the states of Andhra Pradesh (85 percent rural, 49 percent urban), Karnataka (64 percent rural, 29 percent urban) and Chhattisgarh (59 percent rural, 33 percent urban).

The report also estimates that 46 per cent of rural and 23 percent of urban households purchased rice through PDS. However, the PDS share in total household rice consumption was roughly 28 percent in the rural areas and about 20 percent in urban areas. This suggests that PDS is unable to meet the basic household requirements and households are increasingly relying on markets to buy rice.

Purchase of rice from the PDS in the rural areas was observed to be the highest in Tamil Nadu (89 per cent), followed closely by Andhra Pradesh (87 per cent), Kerala (78 per cent) and Karnataka (75 per cent). In urban areas, states with the highest proportion were Tamil Nadu (67 per cent) followed by Kerala (61 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (about 45 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (42 percent).

A similar trend is observed in wheat. At the all-India level, the proportion of households purchasing wheat through PDS stood at 34 per cent in rural areas and 19 per cent in urban areas. But the share of PDS in overall wheat consumption was 17.3 per cent in the rural sector and 10.1 per cent in the urban.

Purchase of wheat in rural areas was observed to be the highest in Maharashtra (40 percent), Madhya Pradesh (36 percent), and Gujarat (32 percent). In urban areas, Madhya Pradesh (23 percent) reported the highest incidence of purchase.

In the case of kerosene, 76 percent of rural households and 30 percent of urban households reported purchasing kerosene from PDS, while 22 percent rural households and 16 percent urban households reported buying kerosene from other sources.

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